The Jewish calendar was based on a series of sevens. There were seven annual feasts, and the seventh day of the weeks was the Sabbath day of rest. The seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land, the people, and the animals in this agricultural society. Deuteronomy 15:1-11 gives more details about the Sabbath Year including freedom from personal debt and indentured servants being set free. We will learn in Deuteronomy 31:9-12 that this year also was to include the reading of the Book of Deuteronomy during the Feast of Tabernacles so that they would "hear and learn and fear the LORD . . . and carefully observe the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 31:12).
Every fiftieth year, the holy Year of Jubilee was to begin. Jubilee means "trumpet, ram's horn" because it began with the blowing of the ram's horn on the Day of Atonement each fiftieth year. It started with repentance on the Day of Atonement, continued with release of indentured servants so they could return to their lands and families, and rest for the land, people, and animals. It was a second year of rest after the Sabbath Year, but God would provide the produce! The Year of Jubilee also included restoration of property to original owners. That seems unfair, but God wanted to remind everyone that the land was all His, and that the original allotments still stood firm. When land was "sold" it was probably more like a "lease" until the next Jubilee year. This also prevented greedy real estate speculators from having all the power! The Year of Jubilee was all about new beginnings for everyone as they separated themselves unto God.
It is interesting to note that the Year of Jubilee is not mentioned outside of the Pentateuch. Maybe it was normal so there was no reason to mention it or the Israelites never observed it and was one of the reasons for their exile (2 Chronicles 36:20-21).
Jesus is our Jubilee! I love the song by Michael Card about it. Here is a video of him singing it!
How radical would it be if we all took a rest every seven years! I am seriously considering a Jubilee year of rest in 2018 for my fiftieth year of following Jesus! It just happens to be that the week I started to follow Jesus is the same week as the Day of Atonement for that year! How cools is that?
Do you take rests on a regular basis? I sure hope so! As I type this, it is my day of rest, but typing Bible Book Club posts is very relaxing for me. It is not work for me. :)
Thank You for seasons of rest. Help us to rest in You. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Jubilee. Amen.